BOCA RATON, Fla., April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Comerica Bank Chief Economist Robert A. Dye, Ph.D. today unveiled a new monthly economic index that tracks current trends in the Sunshine State's economy, the Comerica Florida Economic Activity Index. The results of the inaugural index show the Florida economy fell one point in February, to a level of 105. February's reading is 24 points, or 30 percent, above the index cyclical low of 81. Year-to-date the index has averaged 99 points, four points above the average for all of 2011.
"Florida has made slow progress in its recovery from the recession of 2008-2009. Because of the extreme cycle in real estate markets, it will take several more years before the index recaptures its September 2008 index peak. Condo markets are starting to firm up in some areas of the state, but the single-family home market remains depressed," said Dye. "Tourism activity is picking up and that is helping to stabilize the state. However, cuts in federal spending are already dragging on the Florida economy with the end of the space shuttle program. Also, a weaker global macroeconomic environment poses a downside risk for much of 2012."
The Florida Economic Activity Index, to be published monthly and available free online, consists of seven variables, as follows: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and airline passenger deplanements. All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2008. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.
The driving purpose of the Index's methodology is to reflect overall movement in the Florida economy, broadly consistent with movements in state real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Because state real GDP is published only on an annual basis, the Comerica Florida Economic Activity Index serves as an intervening measure of activity.
"Our new Comerica Florida Index will be a valuable tool for monitoring emerging trends in statewide economic activity," said Dye. "This index will provide a monthly coincident measure of overall economic activity that will fill in the long gaps between the annual releases of gross state product."
In developing this new index, Dye has computed Comerica Florida Economic Activity Index levels going back to 2000. Over the 12 year history, the index closely parallels movements in the annual real Gross State Product data published by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
"We're very proud of Robert Dye's work as our chief economist, and his new Florida index is an excellent barometer of our state's economy," said Randy Nobles, Comerica Bank's Florida Market President. "The Comerica Florida Economic Activity Index should be yet another indispensable tool for our clients, local businesses, public policy leaders and the media."
In addition to Boca Raton, East Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens, Singer Island, Sarasota, Stuart, Wellington and Weston, Fla., Comerica locations can be found in its headquarters state of Texas, as well as in Arizona, California and Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico.